CONSERVATISM IS DIFFERENT from neoconservative imperialism.

Josh Rogin recently reported that Grover Norquist is ready to draw a line on this distinction, as well as fight it out on principles:

“We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to over extend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments,” Norquist said Monday at an event at the Center for the National Interest, formerly the Nixon Center.

But Ryan’s views are at odds with those of Norquist and other budget hawks, who argue that defense budgets can be trimmed. Ryan’s budget plan provides for increasing military spending and doesn’t suggest any tradeoff or specific defense reforms.

“Other people need to lead the argument on how can conservatives lead a fight to have a serious national defense without wasting money,” Norquist said. “I wouldn’t ask Ryan to be the reformer of the defense establishment.”

What nobody is talking about is how a Romney-Ryan ticket and budget ideas would impact the State Department and all Secy. Clinton has done to rehabilitate State’s prowess and power through budget and Pentagon wrestling, so diplomacy, development and outreach is bolstered and we don’t go back to the bad Bush-Cheney days.

It should be noted that State Department power that Secy. Clinton has reinstated is mandated through statute, something Steve Clemons wrote about recently in a terrific piece for The Atlantic.

The Pentagon will always rule, but the fight to make civilian-military cooperation a foundation of our foreign policy is going to be the place hit hardest by a Romney-Ryan win. Anyone wanting to move away from big-footed militarism and knee-jerk interventionism should be concerned with the Republicans turn once again toward neoconservatism, which seems to always happen when men of small foreign policy resumes, or ones that are steeped in defense relationships, take the top of the ticket.

Grover Norquist stepping out against the neoconservative budgetary bloating in unnecessary defense expenditures has the potential of being important. It could also arm his enemies on the right with ammunition to marginalize him. That his views comport with progressivism, but also Ron Paul, will help them.